Arthur Chin Was America’s First World War II Ace
On Aug. 3, 1938 Arthur Chin led a group of seven Gladiator biplanes from the Chinese Nationalist air force’s 28th Pursuit Squadron against a formation of much more advanced Japanese A5M fighters. In the sky over China’s Hubei province, Chin fought off several of the A5Ms. His own aircraft... Read more
‘Mission: Impossible Fallout’ Missed its Chance to Tell a Good Nuclear War Story
This story includes spoilers for Mission: Impossible Fallout. You’ve seen this movie before. Mission: Impossible Fallout is the sixth film in the franchise starring Tom Cruise as American superspy Ethan Hunt. Like all M:I movies, it begins with Hunt playing a tape that offers him a mission and conveniently... Read more
Will the Syrian Kurds Team Up with Bashar Al Assad Against Turkey?
The Syrian Kurds have announced they are willing to work with the Syrian regime against their remaining opponent – the jihadist Haya’t Tahrir Al Sham group, which currently controls the country’s northwestern province of Idlib – in return for Damascus’s help against the Turkish occupiers of the nearby Syrian... Read more
When the Kurdish Peshmerga Fights Like an Army, It Loses
The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria has helped to train the Kurdish Peshmerga militia to become better at urban operations and fighting on flat terrain against Islamic State, a clear departure from those old campaigns it waged from the mountains against the Iraqi army. The Peshmerga is closer... Read more
On the Lonely Iraq-Syria Border, Snipers Battle for a Strategic Road
This story originally appeared on Oct. 1, 2014. I don my helmet and scoot onto the rooftop with the Kurdish fighters, all of us keeping low to avoid forming silhouettes. Because silhouettes are targets—and there are Islamic State snipers out there, somewhere in Rabia, the nearby Iraqi town just... Read more
For South Africa’s Wartime Censors, ‘The Stick’ Was Too Dangerous to Release
Between 1966 and 1990, South Africa fought a brutal, bloody war along its northern border. In 1988, South African writer-director Darrell Roodt released his movie The Stick. The government promptly banned it. The Stick is a horror film about South African soldiers fighting a pointless war far from home.... Read more
The Warlord and His Gun Factory
“Armed force is the backing of justice.” That was Chinese warlord Yan Xishan’s motto. For decades in the early- and mid-20th century, Yan ruled Shanxi province, fighting both for and against fellow warlords, the nationalists, the communists and the Japanese. His rule was characterized by his search for the... Read more
How a Lone Polish Cadet Rampaged Through German Panzers
We tend to impose narratives on history, seizing on compelling legends and streamlining complex events into a convenient and rousing story. Thus first act of World War II is often told as a story of Polish cavalry, lances in hand, charging unstoppable Nazi tanks. However, one Polish cadet and... Read more
Donald Trump Dreams of a Tri-Polar Planet
The pundits and politicians generally take it for granted that Donald Trump lacks a coherent foreign policy. They believe that he acts solely out of spite, caprice and political opportunism — lashing out at U.S. allies such as Germany’s Angela Merkel and England’s Theresa May only to embrace authoritarian... Read more
What Is ‘The Trump Doctrine’?
As presidencies approach their midpoints, pundits begin the inevitable search for that elusive creature. The doctrine. It’s often a quixotic quest, since presidents rarely boil down their foreign-policy visions — if they even have them — to some pithy essence. Then there’s Donald Trump. Conjuring up the current president’s... Read more
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